IU enters final stretch at Iowa

At this time of year, with the season’s final stretch in plain sight, conversations between coaches are often the same.

“When you see other coaches out on the road recruiting at this time of year, the first question guys usually ask each other is, ‘How much are you practicing?'” Indiana assistant Rob Judson said. “It’s a balance. You want to keep an edge, but yet, you want to stay fresh.”

With four regular season games remaining, and their postseason direction uncertain, the Hoosiers sought to use their past six days for dual purposes.

On one hand, the open weekend allowed for ample time for this flawed team to focus on fixing itself.

On the other, it afforded a chance to step away — albeit briefly — from the noise of a season headed in the wrong direction.

“I thought we balanced pretty good,” Judson said. “We had a couple days of edge and a couple days of balance. We’re hopeful our guys will feel fresh going into this ball game.”

In Tuesday’s 9 o’clock game at Iowa, Indiana has yet another opportunity to put its best foot forward and stop a skid that has had the Hoosiers sliding off course for nearly a full month.

IU has won only once — a triple-overtime victory over Penn State — since beating Michigan State, 82-75, in its most impressive conference win of the season on Jan. 21. All told, the Hoosiers have lost four in a row, including six of the past seven games since dispatching the Spartans.

IU point guard Josh Newkirk said the six-day layoff between last week’s one-point loss at Minnesota and tonight’s visit to Iowa City allowed the Hoosiers to recharge and refocus.

“It gave us a chance to get better, work on some things that we need to work on (and) refresh our bodies,” Newkirk said. “It definitely helped.”

The last time Indiana visited Carver Hawkeye Arena, it left with the Big Ten title in hand. There’s not nearly as much at stake this time around, but a win would supply some much-needed confidence to a group that needs it.

It would also help the Hoosiers in terms of Big Ten Tournament seeding.

Although seedings are far from cemented with two weeks remaining in the regular season, Indiana would enter the conference tournament as a No. 11 seed if proceedings were to begin today. That would mean a first-day appearance against the No. 14 seed, which in this case, would be Rutgers.

Like Indiana, Iowa has struggled of late.

The Hawkeyes have dropped three in a row, including a double-overtime defeat at Minnesota and a home loss to Illinois on Saturday evening. This is a rebuilding season in Iowa City, where senior Peter Jok has served as the lone constant for Fran McCaffery’s bunch.

Jok has scored 25 points or more in nine games this season, and ranks fourth among players from Power 5 conferences with 20.4 points per game. He’s also eighth nationally in free throw accuracy (.915) and is second behind IU’s James Blackmon Jr. with 2.6 3-pointers per game.

“First, you start with Peter Jok, who’s one of the top scorers in the Big Ten,” Judson said. “He can score inside, he can score outside. he’s definitely a threat from anywhere on the court so we’ll have to do a really, really good job with him. Then, their point guard (Jordan) Bohannon, has been playing at a high level. He shoots very well from 3, so we’ll have to make sure we contest those shots.

“The last game, their inside play really came along. (Tyler) Cook, the freshman, had a really good game inside. They’re an inside-outside team, so we’ll have to be ready on both those fronts defensively.”

Cook (11.7 ppg), Bohannon (9.2 ppg) and Cordell Pemsl (9.0 ppg) — each of whom are true freshmen — join Jok as Iowa’s top scoring threats.

Pemsl (.607) is tied with Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ for the best field goal percentage among Big Ten players, while scoring in double figures 12 times.

And after Iowa leaned on a pair of upperclassmen in Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons to run its offense last season, Bohannon has done well in taking over. Bohannon is averaging 4.4 assists per game, and is second on the team in free throw accuracy (.833) and 3-pointers made (59).

After the 75-74 loss in Minneapolis last week, the Hoosiers now need wins to avoid a total derailment of their season. Of the season’s final four games, tonight’s matchup with the Hawkeyes, along with this weekend’s senior night tilt against Northwestern and the season finale at Ohio State, appear as winnable games.

Given some time to step away and recharge, Indiana is looking to rebound with a win tonight.

“Their attitudes have been very high,” Judson said. “We just gotta try to keep having them (function) with a narrow focus (and) keep it one possession at a time with the fundamentals and the coverages we have to have to be successful.”

9 comments

  1. Gosh I hope our team plays well tomorrow! I have to admit that I’m still pumped for this season…I like our players and hope that –away from home–they will stop whining and expecting to get the call and play basketball. I am one of those who feel that….if we can win the N.I.T., we should put up another banner ….the first banner for Simon-Skojdt Assembly Hall…in honor of a group of individuals who –late in the season–bonded together and became a Team! Our coach won’t allow them to do anything except that. I love how we are getting better and better as time goes by.

    Iowa has a simply awful team this year! And their Coach is one of, if not, the worst in the Big Ten!

    I am pumped for this contest!!!!! For all my criticism, I do love Indiana University Men’s Basketball.

    On a down note, I watched -in person–an I.U. recruit play against Floyd Central a couple of days ago. I don’t usually go to High School basketball games but there was no I.U. game this weekend, so….

    I was “not impressed” with our recruit, but I WAS impressed at the Team Play of Floyd Central.
    I think I will follow the High School tournament this year, as I truly do enjoy watching a Team compete.

    Let’s hope our Hoosiers compete as a Team tomorrow!

  2. IU boys immature bb has zero chance to win NIT if they improve enough to make NIT. Who did IU beat out to get this recruit? Evansville? Indiana State? Northwestern? Throw another one into IU developmental league.

  3. Well, they’ve had a week to prepare. That’s usually a bad thing for the Hoosiers. Lose to Iowa tonight and the staff will start updating their resumes I imagine.

  4. t, I ALWAYS enjoy your comments and agree with them!

    However, this time I don’t think you are aware that the “higher-seeded team” in the NIT plays the first 3 rounds at Home! This means that if we are seeded high in the NIT, we’ll get our usual ‘home-cooking’ refs and be able to strut our way through the first 3 rounds!!!

    That makes tonight important, just as Chet astutely acknowledges. Win and we take one more step towards a high seed, lose and let’s cheerily witness the exodus.

    Go IU. Beat IOWA!!! I am pumped, as always, for the game.

  5. I foresee another Banner at Simon-Skojdt Assembly Hall forthcoming!

    NIT Champions 2017!!!!

    And then on to greater glory in 2018 with whomever returns from this year’s sqaud.

  6. I completely agree with Rock.

    Everything hinges on getting to 6-9.
    I am more than ecstatic to still be able to say, Rutgers SUCKS!
    “Fake news”? In your face, news networks! Indiana University just signed a multimillion dollar deal to bring “Fake Hoosier Basketball” to ESPN. I’m feeling the glory!
    The only thing I could get more pumped over is if ‘Greater Glory Tom’ fires up the Twitter-Teeter again.
    Ride the Tweeter-Totter to a Tweet 16!
    No More ‘We’re Back’ pain!

  7. Lorenzo Romar’s seat at the University of Washington is getting really really hot now that they’re 9-18 overall and only 2-13 in conference play despite having freshman phenom Markelle Fultz. UW will now miss the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in a row. If the Huskies are looking for a replacement I know a guy with an impressive resume (for the Huskies at least!).

    Disclaimer: The resume pic is ™ and ® to the one and only HfH. Genius! :mrgreen:

  8. In nine years at Indiana Tom Crean has only six (SIX) NCAA tournament wins. By comparison Bob Knight got 11 (eleven) NCAA tournament wins in his last nine years of coaching at Indiana (and 45 overall). In five years at Indiana Mike Davis had seven NCAA tournament wins. Kelvin Sampson was 21-8 (72%) in conference play in his two years. Crean is 61-44 (58%) in conference play for the last six years (69-90, or 43%, overall). Crean is clearly in all respects inferior to all of his predecessors.

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